I just got off the telephone with Ingrid Taylor's class in Wemindji. (These are the students I visited last month in Quebec's James Bay region.) We had a "conference call" -- the students had sent me their stories and we discussed ways to make them even better. So in today's blog entry, I thought I'd share some of the pointers I gave to the students -- and then I'lltell you a little about what they had to say about writing.
So, I told the kids how their pieces need to have strong HOOKS. They are writing short pieces about members of their community. Several of the pieces began with a statement like, "So-and-so is hardworking." I suggested that instead, they give us an example of how the person works hard -- show us the person they are writing about in action. That relates to my second pointer: that details and specific examples can bring a piece of writing to life. Finally, I told them about the importance of editing. Their teacher, Ingrid, said this is something her students are often reluctant to do. They write something once and then they don't want to change it. I asked the kids to guess the number of times I rewrote my novel, On the Game. One of the students, Yolanda, guessed that I rewrote the book three times. "Wrong!" I told her. "Seven times!!" See what I mean about rewriting? Every bit of effort you put into a writing project makes it a little better than it was when you started.
At the end of our conversation, I asked the students to tell me how writing is going for them. I thought I'd include two of their comments here. Julia said, "Writing is hard." I told her I agreed completely. There's nothing I do that's harder than writing -- and that's exactly why I like it so much. Because it's a challenge. Tristan said, "Writing is fun!" I agree with that, too. When we do them well, hard things become fun -- and satisfying. So wherever you are and whatever you've got to do, do your best. Have a strong hook at the start, support your points with interesting details -- and edit your work. Talk to you tomorrow!!